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Jo Eirik Asvall

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 25 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1652
  1. Franklin Apfel

    Refocused the World Health Organization in Europe on public health

    Jo Asvall was the World Health Organization regional director for Europe from 1985 to 2000. He championed and shepherded the development of the WHO European Health For All strategies and targets from concept to practical application in local communities and institutions across the now 53 countries in the European region. This approach, supported by a new database that compared health system performance in all WHO European countries on many common health indicators, inspired health systems to look beyond services and to tackle previously neglected social, lifestyle, and environmental determinants of health.

    Asvall’s leadership led to many landmark public health agreements and initiatives in 43 European countries between 1985 and 2000, and regional commitments on nutrition and physical activity, tobacco control, and reducing harm from alcohol. Through this process Asvall reoriented the way that WHO works in Europe, expanded its technical roles, and developed the regional office as an agency for change, proactively advocating, with partners, for public health oriented policies in all sectors.

    Challenges of transition

    Asvall led the regional office through some of the most challenging times in …

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